The Rise & Fall of Great Powers

The Rise & Fall of Great Powers

by Tom Rachman
3.4 9


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The Rise & Fall of Great Powers: A Novel 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Olly made it to a hundred pages. Appeared like a book of short stories that did not relate to each other. Sorry to disagree with all the professional reviewers, but a very boing hundred pages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hate it when the critics all love a book and I feel like I must have missed something. The underlying mystery of the main character's past is hinted at, but was just not enough to keep me plowing through the disjointed segments of her life to find out.
ABookishGirlBlog More than 1 year ago
So when I first saw this book on Edelweiss I was thinking "Hooray another book about books!", not the case this is not another The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin and though I did enjoy the book the confusion about what the book is actually about irritated me to no end thus affecting my review of it. That said this review is not going to be like my regular reviews because I just cannot bear to summarize this book with the mood I have been in lately. Writer's Block BIG TIME. So here goes. I found this book to be less than what many critics and big time reviewers led me to believe, it is not the great American novel which i n the future will be a classic. No, all lies. The book was just okay and it was very confusing and yes you get it in the end but did we really have to go through all those mazes lost and confused just to get to an ending like that. Come on now. The characters are uber eccentric and were only somewhat relatable I did find some piqued interest because of their personalities but that I couldn't relate to them hardly at all I just felt a huge distance between me and the book, this disconnected for want of a better term. I did enjoy the story, which I know is a little hard to believe after my rant above but it was just "eehh", not love nor hate.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed Rachman's books. The Imperfectionists was a fun read and this was also entertaining. A grown woman tries to piece together her life with flashbacks from 1980's, 1999 & present. Through these flashbacks we slowly discover who her parents are, why she was raised by a rogue, a flighty woman and an older Russian man....and just who were these people really? Who really loved her, who used her. Who really shaped her life. I liked it.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
The Rise and Fall of Great Powers is the second full-length novel by British-born journalist and author, Tom Rachman. At the age of thirty, Tooly Zylerberg, a woman with a very unconventional past, buys a bookshop in Caergenog, a small village in Wales. A few years later, as she works in her slowly-failing business, Tooly receives an email that draws her back to New York, back to her past. Tooly’s history is gradually revealed as the narrative switches between three distinct time periods: in 1988, Tooly is in Bangkok with Paul; in 1999/2000, she is living in New York with Humphrey; and 2011 Tooly travels New York and further. The slow reveal makes for plenty of intrigue as the reader wonders about the unusual characters that people Tooly’s life and the transitions between those three significant phases described. Rachman fills his novel with memorable individuals, few of whom turn out to be quite what they first seem: Tooly herself, quirky, funny and highly individual; the emotionally undemonstrative yet deeply caring Paul; the enigmatic and very charismatic Venn; the Russian ex-pat Humphrey, who teaches Tooly to play chess and cements her love of books; the volatile, unpredictable Sarah, full of mercurial moods and melodrama, flitting in and out of Tooly’s life; the steady, stable Duncan, lawyer and music enthusiast; the somewhat eccentric Welshman, Fogg; and the opinionated Emerson, (“a mediocrity in search of an admiration society”). Rachman’s varied cast offer opinions on historic events, current affairs and life in general (“….progress played a trick. It presented the ultimate gluttony of all: those double clicks that turned everyone into rodents pressing buttons for the next sugar pellet. People who used to deride the losers for watching ten hours of TV a day won’t hesitate to click a mouse for longer” and “People did not see the world for what it was, but for what they were”). His descriptive prose is wonderfully evocative (“To the right lay England: quilted countryside seamed by hedgerows and trees, every field fenced in and farmed. To the left was Wales: a tangle of rambling green, flinty farmhouses, forbidding woods” and “The disquiet of others was an undiscovered force alongside gravity that, rather than pulling downwards, emanated outward from its source” and “In the hotel lobby, a brass revolving door swallowed Tooly, spat her into the metropolis, her entrance punctuated by doormen whistling for cabs and the bap-bap-bap of horns”). Readers will laugh out loud (especially at Humphrey’s mangling of idiomatic expressions and his theory of baldness in Russian politics) and be moved to tears as Tooly finally uncovers her past. Certain passages will resonate with lovers of print books: “People kept their books, she thought, not because they were likely to read them again, but because these objects contained the past – the texture of being oneself at a particular place, at a particular time, each volume a piece of one’s intellect” and “Books, he said, are like mushrooms. They grow when you are not looking. Books increase by rule of compound interest: one interest leads to another interest, and this compounds into third. Next, you have so much interest there is no space in closet” and “To disappear into pages was to be blissfully obliterated. For the duration, all that existed was her companions in print; her own life went still”. Rachman touches on diverse topics: print books in the digital age; the idea of meritocracy; the link between vulnerability and courage; the legacy we leave when we die; the power of others to influence our view of life. The cover art of books end-on is cleverly done. This novel is both funny and thought-provoking: it will prompt readers to seek out Rachman’s earlier works to experience more of his unique style.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BrandieC More than 1 year ago
From its description, I expected The Rise & Fall of Great Powers to involve a child's abduction by strangers set on using (or abusing) her. The abductions at the heart of Tom Rachman's new novel, however, are far more nuanced, with complex motives, some of which actually appear to have been in the best interest of Tooly, the kidnapped child whose adventures we follow around the globe and across time (from 1988 to 2011). I can't elaborate on the plot without revealing some significant twists. What I can do is highlight some of Rachman's pithy descriptions, whether of the "bleary JFK arrivals dragging bags and babies and time zones behind them"; the "pendulous earrings that stretched her lobes, like two hands waiting to drop their luggage"; or an elderly man, possibly suffering from Alzheimer's, "staring at the dark window, as if he'd flipped the closed sign over himself and there was no further business that day." At the end, Tooly, Paul, Venn, Sarah, and Humphrey remain opaque, but we are nevertheless satisfied that Tooly understands enough of her history to take a chance on moving forward. I received a free copy of The Rise & Fall of Great Powers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago